26 February 2019, dawned with the thunders of rain and war. The Indian Air Force (IAF) violated Line of Control (LoC) in retaliation to Pulwama attack. The Indian media claims that IAF used Mirage-2000 jets with laser-guided bombs weighing 1,000 pounds at around 3.30am causing an estimated casualty of 200-300 people at multiple targets. However, despite claiming to have advanced satellite capability, no imagery of the destroyed site has been released by India to support its tall claims. Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was immediately called where PM Modi gave security forces a “free hand” to deal with the challenges posed by terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir. The war hysteria can be seen at its best – thanks to the Indian media. The situation at hand immediately drew my attention to the scenarios discussed in the recently published account ‘Not War, Not Peace?’ The book elaborated on India’s options to respond to cross-border terrorism. Conducting limited air strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir were labeled as the most feasible option to respond as it will trigger a restrained response from Pakistani military. India seems to have taken the suggestion very seriously! The Modi-Doval doctrine appears to be in place which is aimed at responding through offensive military means in case of a terrorist attack on India – air launched surgical strikes being the most viable means. The IAF violation last night did not go undetected and met adequate response from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) within no time. Such acts of aggression from the Indian side hold potential of inadvertent escalation. In scenarios like these, Pakistan will feel compelled to respond in kind and threaten escalation in order to dissuade and deter India. As rightly put by PM Imran Khan, Pakistan will not think of retaliation, it will retaliate. The recognition of the former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that India is financing terrorism inside Pakistan through Afghanistan (Times of India), the Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Yadav’s public confession, admission of TTP Commander Ehsanullah Ehsan and acknowledgement of Indian strategists like Bharat Karnad that India’s RAW has close ties with TTP, prove that the employment of terrorism against its smaller neighbors has consistently remained the hallmark of the Indian statecraft Pakistan, at various instances, has been forced to abandon the ‘unilateral’ restraint where India was trying to test Pakistan’s thresholds. Indian intervention last night is not any different. While war might not be an option; India must not take it for granted. Similarly, while Pakistan is not supporting terrorism inside India, it has never allowed its soil to be used by non-state actors against any other state risking a war or even a conflict. Interference and intervention are considered aggressive acts in International Law. India already stands in violation of the principle of non-interference by funding, financing, supporting, and facilitating terrorist activities inside Pakistan. The recognition of the former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that India is financing terrorism inside Pakistan through Afghanistan (Times of India), the Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Yadav’s public confession, admission of TTP Commander Ehsanullah Ehsan and acknowledgement of Indian strategists like Bharat Karnad that India’s RAW has close ties with TTP, prove that the employment of terrorism against its smaller neighbors has consistently remained the hallmark of the Indian statecraft. International media which continues to allege Pakistan’s ISI of having links with terrorist organizations, conveniently overlook these facts and revelations about India for the obvious reasons. While India can get away with any and everything, Pakistan is likely to face such allegations in the foreseeable future and will be held responsible for any alleged terrorist activity inside India. The war hysteria created by Indian media has resulted in uniting the Indian politicians at this critical time when the elections are approaching. Earlier, Indian Congress has demanded for political solution to Kashmir issue and, has ruled out war as an option against Pakistan. The incident will be blown out of the proportion to use anti Pakistan rhetoric to win popular support. If the time was ripe for India to conduct surgical strikes under the guise of a false flag operation, the time is equally ripe for Pakistan to abandon unilateral restraint and respond in kind to Indian acts of aggression. Reciprocity should be the rule of thumb while dealing with a neighbor like India. Published in Daily Times, February 28th 2019.